U.S. votes against U.N. censure of Israel over Golan

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The Trump administration on Friday voted for the first time against a United Nations resolution that condemned Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, haaretz.com reports.

The outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations announced her country's decision in a statement Thursday about a General Assembly vote scheduled for Friday. Israel, as usual, voted against the resolution, but the U.S. also voted no for the first time ever.

Earlier, US National Security Advisor John Bolton had said that the Trump administration was not discussing any possible recognition of Israel's annexation of the occupied Syrian territory. While the resolution is non-binding, the annual ritual has served as an global censure of Israel's decision in the early 1980s to bring the Golan under its sovereignty.

Israel's permanent ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon praised the USA move, saying that "Haley's decision was of great importance to Israel".

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Friday that "it's past time to acknowledge the reality of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which should never come under the control of the Iran-backed Assad regime".

"Hopefully, Friday's United Nations vote is a step in this direction; in any case, it is a welcome rebuke to the U.N.'s practice of passing dozens of biased resolutions targeting Israel, while empowering despots like Assad".

The U.S. does not recognize Israel's claim to the territory but U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in September that he could not imagine a situation where it is returned to Syria.

The non-binding resolution was adopted in a General Assembly committee by a vote of 151 to 2, with the United States and Israel the only two countries opposing the measure. "Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone", Haley added. The destructive influence of the Iranian regime inside Syria presents major threats to worldwide security. "The United States will vote no".

Through these resolutions, the UN reinforced the mandate of its Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and renewed the mandate of its "special committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories".

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians fled the Golan into other parts of Syria in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

Israeli officials praised the USA move.

Syria meanwhile hailed the vote and said the U.N. had sent a message that Israel was in "violation of the provisions of the [U.N.] Charter and of worldwide law".

"It is time for the world to distinguish between those who stabilise the region and those who sow terror", he noted.

However, in a late August visit to Israel, National Security Advisor John Bolton said "there's no discussion of it, no decision within the US government".

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